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LGBT Advocates Score Another Victory In Texas, But Risk Of Anti-Gay Legislation Remains


Texas LGBT advocates dodged another bullet Monday, when an anti-gay adoption amendment was derailed — at least for now — in the state House of Representatives. 

Last Thursday, an anti-gay marriage bill died in the Texas House when the deadline expired for the chamber to pass it. 

Four days later, GOP Rep. Scott Sanford (above) laid out an amendment on the House floor to allow state-funded, faith-based adoption agencies to discriminate against LGBT people based on "sincerely held religious beliefs." 

The Washington Blade reports: 

But after he proposed the amendment on the floor, Rep. Joe Moody (D-El Paso) raised a point of order on the vehicle bill on the basis the amendment wasn't properly filed. The Texas House agreed to the point of order, sending both the proposed amendment and the vehicle bill back to committee. ... 

Sanford invoked the decisions of Catholic adoption agencies in Massachusetts and D.C. to halt operations there after marriage equality came to those jurisdictions, as well as Catholic adoption agencies in Illinois after the state legalized civil unions, saying the agencies were "forced" to take those actions. Each of agencies were already required not to discriminate against LGBT people on the basis of non-discrimination laws in those jurisdictions and halted operations on their own volition.

After the point of order against the anti-LGBT adoption measure was sustained, LGBT advocates claimed victory. It wasn't immediately clear whether the point of order was the last opportunity for the measure, or whether it could be revived at later time in some other fashion. The Texas legislative session continues until June 1.

The adoption amendment began as one of more than 20 anti-LGBT pieces of legislation in Texas this year, believed to be the most in the history of any state. However, with less than two weeks remaining in the legislative session, none of the anti-LGBT legislation has yet passed. 

That could change soon, though, as the House is set to take up the so-called Pastor Protection Act, ostensibly designed to protect pastors and churches from being forced to participate in same-sex weddings. The measure has already cleared the Senate, and anti-gay Gov. Greg Abbott has said he would sign it. 

As Matt Baume mentioned in his weekly Gay Marriage News Watch, pastors and churches already enjoy those protections under the First Amendment, as well as under the state's Religious Freedom Restoration Act. But the Texas bill is written so broadly that it could allow discrimination by religiously affiliated individuals who are acting in a secular capacity, such as justices of the peace. 

The so-called "Pastor Protection Act" could also serve as a vehicle for GOP Rep. Cecil Bell to try to introduce his anti-gay marriage bill — which died last week — as an amendment. 

Stay tuned.  

Texas Hate Group Leader Says Gay Marriage Ban Is Good For Business, Blasts Chamber Of Commerce


The leader of an anti-LGBT hate group says Texas' same-sex marriage ban has helped make it the most business-friendly state in the nation. 

Jonathan Saenz, president of Texas Values, also blasted the state chamber of commerce for allegedly helping to kill a bill that would have banned local LGBT protections. 

Saenz, whose ex-wife famously left him for a woman, made the comments last week during an interview with host Craig James on the Family Research Council's "Washington Watch" radio program. 

The Texas Observer reports: 

“Texas has been No. 1 for business for 10 straight years—that is during the same 10 years that our marriage laws have been between one man and one woman,” Saenz said. “It appears to me those policies have helped Texas and been a part of what makes Texas great. You see people flocking from New Yorks and Clairofni bec. of our business climate." 

Saenz told James that the Texas Association of Business — the state's chamber of commerce —  killed Senate Bill 1155, which would have banned local LGBT protections. However, the Texas Association of Business actually took no position on the bill, according to the Observer

The TAB made headlines when it came out against two religious freedom proposals, but it did not publicly take a position on SB 1155 or other anti-LGBT legislation. ... 

“The business lobby, the Texas Association of Business, has decided now they’re going to put all their investment in the homosexual agenda, and that’s one of the things they did,” Saenz said. “It was a big surprise to a lot of lawmakers, and when they did that it had a very negative impact on the impression of what this law was really about. The Texas Association of Business has clearly turned their back on the values of Texas.”

Saenz was scheduled to appear Monday afternoon on Michelangelo Signorile's XM Radio show, which is in Texas this week, but Signorile said he canceled at the last minute. Listen to Saenz's full "Washington Watch" interview, AFTER THE JUMP ... 

Continue reading "Texas Hate Group Leader Says Gay Marriage Ban Is Good For Business, Blasts Chamber Of Commerce" »

Texas Anti-Gay Marriage Bill On Life Support


Democrats in the Texas House are confident they can run out the clock on a bill aimed at undermining a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in favor of same-sex marriage. 

The deadline for the bill to be considered by the House is midnight Thursday, and it remains buried beneath other business on the chamber's calendar. But the author of the measure, GOP Rep. Cecil Bell, says he still thinks it will come up for a vote. The Austin American Statesman reports: 

Bell said he expects Democratic efforts to derail his bill to fail. “We are cognizant of the things you can do to move it along” to a vote, he said. “I’m highly confident that we will get there.”

But Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg, said Democrats are energized to deny HB 4105 a vote before Thursday’s midnight deadline, which would kill all bills that haven’t received an initial vote on the House floor.

“We’re not going to see a vote,” Canales said. “If we do, I would be pretty amazed.”

On Wednesday, two major corporations — Celanese and Dell — came out against Bell's House Bill 4105, which would prohibit state and local employees from issuing or recognizing marriage licenses, regardless of any court order. 

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The House convenes at 9 a.m. Central this morning and likely will go until midnight. You can watch the proceedings here

Previously, "Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton Defends Disgusting Anti-Marriage Equality Bills on CNN" [tlrd]

Texas Lawmakers To Consider Anti-Gay, 'License To Discriminate' Adoption Amendment


On Monday we told you how the Texas House is about to vote on a bill seeking to undermine a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in favor of same-sex marriage. The vote on the anti-gay marriage bill is now expected to take place Wednesday or Thursday. 

Meanwhile, the House is also now scheduled to consider an anti-LGBT, "license to discriminate" adoption amendment. The amendment is designed to allow taxpayer-funded, faith-based adoption agencies such as Catholic Charities to turn away gay couples based on their religious beliefs. It is similar to a bill that was defeated in Florida last month

Texas GOP state Rep. Scott Sanford (above), executive pastor of a large Southern Baptist congregation, introduced the anti-gay adoption amendment after his identical bill — which we reported on last month — failed to be scheduled for a House floor vote. The amendment is scheduled to be considered by the House on Wednesday.   

The Texas Freedom Network, Equality Texas and the ACLU of Texas said in a release Tuesday: 

If enacted into law, Rep. Sanford’s amendment would allow child welfare providers to discriminate against not just gay and transgender families seeking to provide loving homes for children who need them, but also against people of other faiths, interfaith couples and anyone else to whom a provider objects for religious reasons. This would seriously weaken the state’s child welfare system by further shrinking the pool of qualified parents who can provide a safe, loving home for children.

Moreover, the amendment would expose minors to potential harm, even allowing child welfare service providers to force gay and transgender minors into abusive and discredited reparative “therapy” programs to change their sexual orientation or gender identity. In fact, the state would potentially have no recourse to act to protect such children from that harm.

Let’s be clear: this amendment puts a political agenda and personal beliefs ahead of the interests of children in the state’s welfare system, many of whom have come into that system because of abuse and neglect. Decisions about the placement of those children in safe, loving homes should be based on their needs and on the ability of families to meet those needs, not the religious or moral objections of the agencies with which the state has contracted to provide those services.

Earlier this month, the Human Rights Campaign issued a release in which major child advocacy groups came out against Sanford's adoption bill: 

In a letter to Texas lawmakers, the Donaldson Adoption Institute (DAI), Voice for Adoption (VFA), and North American Council on Adoptable Children (NACAC) blasted the legislation that would empower adoption agencies to discriminate against eligible parents and guardians. If passed, the discriminatory bill would deny countless children access to caring homes. It could also prevent eligible interfaith couples, same-sex couples, and couples where one individual was previously divorced, the opportunity to care for a child in need.

“We urge you to examine the research that demonstrates if we truly wish to act in good conscience towards children waiting for permanent families, we must not exclude qualified and eager prospective foster and adoptive parents,” the letter states. “Foster and adoptive parent applicants should be judged based on their qualifications, not their sexual orientation or gender identity. Enshrining discrimination into law, on the other hand, will undermine the safety and well-being of Texas’ children.”

“This is tantamount to taxpayer-funded discrimination, as many of the state’s private adoption agencies have large public contracts,” said Ellen Kahn, director of HRC’s Children, Youth and Families Program. “We call on Texas legislators to choose the best interests of the child over discrimination, and abandon this bill aimed at hurting Texans who wish to provide caring homes for children.”

Oklahoma Stripper Seeks Protective Order Against Anti-Gay Texas Lawmaker


A stripper in Oklahoma is seeking a protective order against one of Texas' most anti-gay lawmakers, accusing him of stalking her. 

Sen. Charles Perry, R-Lubbock, is the author of one of several Texas bills that seek to undermine a potential ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court in favor of nationwide marriage equality. At his swearing-in last year, Perry compared America's current "spiritual battle" to the Holocaust

The Associated Press reports on the stripper's request for a protective order against Perry:  

The clerk in Creek County, Oklahoma, confirmed Tuesday that a request for an order had been issued against Sen. Charles Perry of Lubbock, Texas.

The clerk said the document couldn't be released since it hadn't yet been served.

But the woman seeking the protective order posted a photo of it on Twitter, where she describes herself as dancer at a gentlemen's club.

Here's the woman's tweet:


Although it hasn't gotten a hearing, Perry's anti-gay marriage bill is similar to a proposal from GOP Rep. Cecil Bell that is expected to be voted on by the Texas House this week. From Perry's press release about the bill in February: 

LUBBOCK, TX – Today, Senator Charles Perry filed SB 673 (The Preservation of Sovereignty and Marriage Act) to protect traditional marriage and reaffirm Texas sovereignty under the 10th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. ... 

SB 673 centralizes the process of obtaining marriage licenses to a single Texas entity, the Secretary of State. This will ensure uniformity and prevent noncompliant individuals within a county from issuing marriage licenses that do not conform to state law.

“The officiate of a marriage ceremony already says ‘By the power vested in me by the great State of Texas’,” continued Perry. “My bill simply gives this statement some teeth and places marriage under the purview of the state. I look forward to working closely with stakeholders to ensure the final version of this bill is strong and provides robust protection of marriage as defined by the Texas Constitution.”

In March, at an anti-gay marriage rally featuring Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore at the Capitol, Sen. Perry introduced his pastor to speak. From The Texas Observer

Sen. Perry, who along with Rep. Bell has filed legislation seeking to prevent Texas clerks from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, introduced his pastor, Rev. David Wilson of Southcrest Baptist Church in Lubbock. Perry said the nation needs a revival that starts from the pulpits, and Wilson backed that up with a fiery speech.

“If humans invented marriage, then polygamy, the taking of several wives, polyandry, the sharing of a wife by several husbands, same-sex marriage, marriage between an adult and a child, marriage between relatives, might seem normal and acceptable,” Wilson said. “But if man created marriage, then monogamy, the lifelong union of one man to one woman, would have no more intrinsic value than any other type of marriage. But marriage is not human invention, it is God’s design.”

According to Perry's website, he's a deacon in the church and has been married to his wife for 32 years. 

UPDATE: identified the woman as Cindy Ortiz: 

Ortiz wrote in an email, “Mr. Perry has hacked my computer, email accounts, social media accounts and used that private information to interfere with relationships and work.”

Ortiz also wrote, “Mr. Perry will never admit to these activities.”

“Mr. Perry has been asked repeatedly, verbally and in writing to cease and desist these activities to which he replies, ‘I can’t,’” Ortiz said. 


Texas Lawmakers Advance 'Pastor Protection Act,' Continue Full-Fledged Assault On Same-Sex Marriage


Last week, we told you how witnesses compared same-sex marriage to bestiality and pedophilia when they testified in support of a bill that would prevent churches and pastors from being forced to participate in gay weddings. 

On Monday, the Texas Senate responded by advancing the bill in a 21-10 vote, with one Democrat joining the chamber's 20 Republicans. 

The Texas Tribune reports on passage of the so-called "Pastor Protection Act": 

State Sen. José Rodríguez, an El Paso Democrat who voted against the measure, questioned whether it could be used to justify a refusal to perform interracial marriages — shielding religious officials from prosecution "no matter how extreme [their] views are."

Pointing out that same-sex marriage is banned in Texas, state Sen. John Whitmire, D-Houston, asked what problem the bill was trying to fix. 

Whitmire said it was "unheard of" that a same-sex couple would try to force a pastor to perform a wedding ceremony if that pastor did not accept their marriage. 

"They just want to be left alone to love their partner, they want to get married with clergy in a setting that embraces that union," he said.  

More from the The American-Statesman

The legislation also stipulates that clergy, religious organizations and people employed by a religious group could not be sued for damages, prosecuted for criminal violations, lose tax-exempt status or forfeit a government contract or grant for refusing to provide services, open facilities or sell goods related to same-sex marriages.

“I think the language is awfully broad,” said Sen. Kirk Watson, D-Austin, adding that a clause protecting groups supervised and controlled by a religious organization would seem to allow for-profit health care, nursing home and other companies to refuse to serve same-sex couples.

The Texas House is set to vote on an identical bill Tuesday. 

Also Tuesday, the House will vote on a far more dangerous bill, by Rep. Cecil Bell (above), that seeks to undermine a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in favor of same-sex marriage. 

The Texas Observer reports: 

The bill would bar state and local employees from issuing, enforcing or recognizing same-sex marriage licenses—and prohibit public monies from being used to do so—regardless of any court order.

LGBT advocates say if the high court rules in favor of same-sex marriage, HB 4105 would set up a showdown between state and federal law, costing Texas millions of dollars in litigation and potentially delaying the effectiveness of the decision by years. They say the bill would unleash chaos similar to what’s been seen in Alabama over same-sex marriage, and generate the type of business backlash associated with passage of an anti-LGBT religious freedom law in Indiana. ... 

Rebecca Robertson, legal and policy director at the ACLU of Texas, said HB 4105 is designed to give Texas another legal basis for challenging same-sex marriage in court: state sovereignty. And she said it could be used as a model by other states for resisting the Supreme Court ruling.

“The last time that we saw similar efforts to undermine court rulings about what the Constitution requires was when Southern states attempted to use the power of the purse to avoid having to comply with federal court orders ordering school desegregation,” Robertson said. “Those tactics were rejected, but obviously it took years of litigation to get to that point. HB 4105 is trying to do the same kind of end run around the Constitution.”

Despite comparisons to Indiana's religious freedom law, few businesses have come out publicly against the Texas anti-gay marriage bill, according to The Washington Blade

As Texas lawmakers prepare to vote on legislation aimed at circumventing an anticipated U.S. Supreme Court decision in favor of same-sex marriage, the state's business leaders are largely keeping quiet.

The business community's opposition in Indiana helped ignite a media firestorm against a religious freedom law there that is so far absent in the Texas debate. ... 

Robert Wood, spokesperson for the Texas Association of Businesses, said his organization hasn't "taken any position, nor testified" on the legislation and doesn't have any comment at this time.

You can take action against House Bill 4105 here and here


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